Cargo Shipping Companies: Vaccine Mandate Will Increase Worker Shortage, Wreaking Havoc on Supply Chain

A health worker prepares a dose of the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by China's Sinovac laboratory, to vaccinate elderly homeless people against the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, at the Samaritano de la Calle Foundation in Cali, Colombia, on March 3, 2021. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP) (Photo by LUIS ROBAYO/AFP …
LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images

Cargo air shipping companies this week warned President Joe Biden the vaccine mandate will wreak havoc on the supply chain by increasing worker shortages across the industry, Politico reported Thursday.

“We have significant concerns with the employer mandates announced on Sept. 9, 2021, and the ability of industry members to implement the required employee vaccinations by Dec. 8, 2021,” Stephen Alterman, president of the Cargo Airline Association, wrote to the Office of Management and Budget.

The association represents large air cargo companies like UPS, FedEx, DHL Express, and Atlas Air and carries Amazon packages and medical supplies.

“[T]he looming December 8 mandate for having fully vaccinat[ed] workforces creates a significant supply chain problem,” Alterman continued. “This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that we are already experiencing a worker shortage, both in the air and on the ground, and any loss of employees who refuse to be vaccinated will adversely impact needed operations.”

Biden’s executive order has also caused the shipping companies UPS and FedEx to acknowledge they are concerned about the vaccine mandate and are reviewing the possibility of losing many workers due to the federal mandate.

US President Joe Biden speaks at the dedication of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut on October 15, 2021 in Storrs, Connecticut. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden speaks at the dedication of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut on October 15, 2021, in Storrs, Connecticut. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

“We are reviewing the Executive Order and what it means for UPS and our people,” UPS spokesperson Kara Ross told Politico. “We’re urging all of our employees to get vaccinated. Vaccination remains the best way for our employees, communities and company to stay healthy and strong.”

A FedEx spokesman revealed to Politico the company is “engaged with the relevant government agencies” about the quickly approaching December 8 deadline.

“The health and safety of our FedEx team members continues to be our top priority. We strongly encourage team members to get vaccinated and continue to communicate on the importance and access to Covid-19 vaccines,” FedEx Global spokesperson Chris Allen said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday confirmed Biden’s vaccine mandate is, indeed, contributing to the supply chain crisis.

“Firms reported high turnover, as workers left for other jobs or retired. Child-care issues and vaccine mandates were widely cited as contributing to the problem, along with COVID-related absences,” the Federal Reserve wrote in its Beige Book.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 02: A FedEx worker stacks packages on a cart on December 02, 2019 in San Francisco, California. Cyber Monday shoppers are on track to spend a record $9.4 billion on online purchases, a nearly 19 percent jump from one year ago, following strong Black Friday sales purchases of $7.2 billion. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A FedEx worker stacks packages on a cart on December 02, 2019, in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Biden’s September mandate for all companies with more than 100 employees to become vaccinated or submit to time-consuming coronavirus testing has not yet gone into effect. But some companies have begun pressuring their employees to get the jab or risk losing their jobs.

“More than 1,800 Washington state workers have been fired, resigned or retired due to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate,” Fox 12 in Oregon reported Wednesday.

Jeremy Tancredi, a partner of West Monroe’s Operations Excellence, also warned that Biden’s forced vaccination mandate would have “an undesirable impact” on warehouse workers, among other supply chain sectors. “It is almost impossible to find workers,” Tancredi told SupplyChainDive.com. “We know we have a lot of clients who are running north of 50% temp labor right now, which is just a crazy high number.”

Shipping prices across the industry have already skyrocketed due to the supply chain jam driven by a lack of labor. For instance, the price to send a container from Asia to the east coast costs $20,000. In 2020, the price was around $3,800, according to Freightos.

A person walks through the warehouse of an IKEA store on October 15, 2021, in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn borough in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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